MIAMA Member Spotlight: Cale Politoski – Shattuck St. Mary’s Sports Complex

Name: Cale Politoski

Organization Name: Shattuck St. Mary’s Sports Complex

Address: 1000 Shumway Avenue

City: Faribault       State: Minnesota                            Zip: 

Email: cale.politoski@s-sm.org
Phone #: C: 414-795-3036  O: 507-333-1575

Website: www.s-sm.org

Tell us how you got into the industry?  I got into the industry when I was 16 years old cleaning locker rooms and being a skate guard at Wilson Park Recreation Center in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the rink I grew up playing at. I did that part-time working my way up to a Park Maintenance Worker, where I did ice maintenance and the such until I was about 26 years old.  I did this to supplement teaching income, and mainly because I just loved being there.  Then, after 12 years of teaching, I left the classroom to go full time back into the rinks at Shattuck St. Mary’s where coaching hockey brought me.

How many years have you been in the ice arena industryI am entering my 10th year of being in the rinks full-time.

What type of Ice Resurfacer does you facility operate?  SSM has two Olympia resurfacers and a Sport-Ice Electric Resurfacer for our 3v3 rink.

What type of Ice Edger does your facility operate?  We have the Winn Edger

What is the size of your ice sheet? We have two NHL size sheets and an 85×85 sheet.

What type of floor do you have in your facility? (Sand/Cement/Other) SSM has two sand floors (full sheet and little sheet) and 1 cement floor (full sheet).

What is the best part about working in an ice arena?  Being able to provide great facilities for a high end hockey, figure skating, and soccer programs.  I get to see people want to come to SSM and skate on the same rinks that some pretty good NHLers have skated on.  It is my job to make sure that my facilities meet or exceed expectations.  Love that!!

Using one word, name one thing you love about working at a rink?  Smell (nothing beats the smell of the ice and rink at 5 or 6 am when you open up)

Nobody’s perfect in this industry. Tell us your worst experience at a rink so far?  My first day of coming to work as officially being the new Sports Complex Manager.  Came into work to a blown cooling tower to start the day. A few hours later, a compressor went out on the other rink. Not a good way to start off!!

What are the first three things you do when you get to the rink each day? 1. I do a walk through my buildings.  2. Check in with my morning opening guy (Mike), 3. Start going through emails

How do you feel ongoing professional development is helping you and your career?  Ongoing professional development has allowed me to be able to communicate not only with my staff better, but also with companies that need to fix rink mechanicals for me.  I have gotten something very useful out of every course I have taken through US Ice Rinks or ISI.

How would you explain to the average hockey parent how the ice resurfacer works to resurface the ice?  The ice resurfacer is that – a resurfacer.  The deck has a blade that shaves off the “bad ice” and the water behind makes it good, again.  Augers sit below and put the shaved ice into the front bed to be dumped.

Career highlight or accomplishment you are most proud of? Most proud of becoming the Sports Complex Manager.  Great to have “ownership” of buildings.  Been doing this since I was 16 years old, so to now have my own buildings is pretty great.

Advice for making it in the sports industry or for someone wanting to be a Zamboni driver?  Getting into the sports industry – you have to understand that you are in recreation.  You are providing a fun, safe place for people to be.  It isn’t always what you want or like, it is about providing the experience for people so they want to come back to your place.

Who would you like to acknowledge for helping (mentoring) you along the way? Joe Kershasky, my boss at Wilson Park Recreation Center in Milwaukee, was a great influence on me.  It took me getting my own buildings to understand that, but I look back and want to do it “right” like he did. Really good boss when I look back at it.

What certifications have you attained within the industry? (STAR classes, ISI classes, etc) 

US Rinks/STAR – Basic Refrigeration, Ice Making and Painting, Ice Maintenance and Equipment Operation, Certified Ice Technician

ISI – Arena Management, Arena operations, HVAC

What is the best tip you have learned from any of the classes offered through MIAMA?  Make your buildings a great place, not only for your employees, but also for the people who come to them.  Take ownership in the place and things will be more rewarding overall.